Tuesday, December 22, 2009

If you have a minute or two.

While I have a moment I would like to tell you another story about the character Shep that I mentioned before.
This story is just that. A story. Read into it what you wish.
You may recall that Shep is the current president of a company which is supposed to be looking after maintenance and repairs of things in a very large area.
For argument's sake we'll call the area New Brouhaha. Within New Brouhaha are a whole bunch of smaller sections with "neighbourhoods" in each section.
Shep's company is in charge but will have to reapply to the shareholders in the neighbourhoods when the contract is up. The contracts are a few years in duration.
Since the beginning of New Brouhaha there have different companies chosen to the look after the area. Some have done pretty well at it and others not so well. Thank goodness the contracts expire and the shareholders are able to choose every couple of years.
It sounds like an awfully difficult and large task, doesn't it?
Very true but I should mention that the sections each have a bunch of folks that help run the sectorial things. These folks make up committees that try to do what they can to help with things in the neighbourhoods.

Okay here is today's story.
Many years ago, before the neighbourhood committees were in place, the big company was trying to stay on top of everything in the neighbourhoods and keep things going nicely.
However, so many things were breaking down and getting old that the company was having a hard time merely keeping up.
I'll mention that Shep wasn't president of his company yet.
In fact, Shep's company may or may not have had the contract for the neighbourhoods at this point in time. This doesn't matter though as you'll see it boils down to Shep's term.
Eventually someone decided that creating the section committees was a good idea. I suppose that the shareholders themselves likely had a say in this.
You can imagine the huge burden it took off of the company when the committees were formed. Most of the day to day stuff could now be dealt with at the committees.

In one section the company made a deal with the committee of that section.
There was a long list of things in the section that had broken down or needed to be upgraded in order to work properly. These things HAD to be done and the company knew it.
The deal was that the committee would complete all of the listed work using money in its own bank account (made up of membership dues from the shareholders) and the company would reimburse the committee.
What a great deal for the company! The work would get done by someone else and all they had to do was issue payments that would have needed to be made anyway.
This deal was so amazing that the committee and the company wrote it down on paper and both signed it to show how happy they were with it. This amazing piece of paper was always to be admired by the committee and whatever company happened to be in charge at the time, whether it be Shep's company or any other. It would apply until all of the work on that long list was finished.

Things clicked along pretty well for many years.
The committee had the work done, sent in the required paperwork and the company sent cheques paying the committee back.
Then one day the company cheques slowed down and weren't quite so smooth coming along. The committee would sent in bills expecting the cheques but the cheques didn't come.
A few times the committee would ask the company about this. The company would then send the cheque after numerous reminders.
Suddenly the payments completely stopped coming!
By this time Shep and his company were in charge of New Brouhaha.

The committee sent several letters and made a bunch of phone calls pleading for the money owed to them. The work was still being done. The committee was doing everything that it promised the company they would do for them.
There were many things which still needed to be finished on the list too!
The company responded to the committee saying, "Well gee, we really do appreciate you taking care of things for us but we just don't seem to have enough money in that account to pay you right now. Maybe we will later. We'll see okay?"

You can imagine how the committee felt hearing this year after year from the company. What were they to do?
The committee really liked that piece of paper signed many years ago but it seemed that the company was using their copy to line the cage of the company parakeet in Shep's office.

After much thought the committee came up with an idea. It was a very good one and would make life so much easier for the company. The company would never have to worry about that long list of work ever again.
So the committee asked for a meeting with Shep and his staff to offer the solution.
The committee proposed that instead of the company paying for the rest of the work on the list as it was being completed, that the company just cut the committee a cheque for a fraction of the total amount of the work and everyone would call it square.
The committee would continue doing the repair and upgrade work but the company would never owe another cent to the committee for it. Everyone could rip up their amazing papers if they chose.

The company thought this was a great idea! Wow, it would certainly take the pressure off of them for this whole thing. At a fraction of the cost too!
The company thanked the committee and said that they would get on it right away. The cheque would be in the mail.
The committee were so happy that they sent a letter to the company telling them of their joy.
Could the company please send a letter back to the committee showing them how happy they were?
Uh, no. The company didn't want to send a letter back. That wasn't their style.
No problem, the committee thought. Shep is a nice guy and we know that he's happy with the proposal.
So the committee waited. And waited. And waited.

Over time the committee members changed a little bit but the proposal was never forgotten.
In fact, when new committee members heard of the marvellous proposal they loved it. The cheque was in the mail! Great!

One newer dude on the committee had a very difficult time understanding why the company had not sent any payment yet.
Everyone had agreed since the beginning and the committee was faithfully doing as it had promised it would do.
Was it possible that the company was not acting on good faith as the committee was doing? The dude couldn't imagine that being the case.
The committee asked for ANOTHER meeting with Shep. This time the dude wanted to tag along and see if he could make any sense of this whole situation.

Shep certainly seems like a great guy and sure seemed to be up front and honest.
Shep listened intently again as the committee chair recapped the story to date. The chair reminded Shep that everyone loved the amazing proposal when the committee presented it a couple of years ago.

Then Shep said something that the dude couldn't fathom at all.
"If we give your section a cheque now all of the other sections will be upset that they aren't getting one."
"Pardon me??" the dude thought to himself.
If the other sections have a problem with it just explain the situation and show them that nice piece of paper!
How could they not agree that the proposal was fantastic and would save the company money? Then the money saved could be used to help get things done in the other sections.
It seemed so obvious to the dude.
Then Shep told the committee folks not to worry. The company would find a way to issue that cheque under another one of their divisions. (Then the other sections wouldn't know about it and wouldn't get upset.)
The committee didn't say anything. What could they say? No sense asking for a letter or paper from Shep about this. That wouldn't happen.
The dude and the committee members left Shep's headquarters shaking their heads with the realization that the hopes for ever seeing their money were very very slim.
There was still a chance but very small.

What would you do if you were the dude or the committee members? What could you possibly do in this situation?

Oh, I should mention one more thing which may affect what you think.
Shep and his staff told the committee that if they ever utter a word about this whole situation to ANYONE, especially the company's competition, that the committee would never see a single cent as long as Shep was in charge.

Merry Christmas...

Stay well,


Gustavius said...

Perhaps the committee should mention a word of this to their lawyer and see how long it takes Shep to cough up a cheque then.

Train Geek said...

Good thing this is just a story, Tim... because otherwise this would stink so much, I could smell it all the way over here in Manitoba. I'm glad that this Shep person is totally made up. . .

Rhonda Merkley Maccarone said...

Hi Steve!!!
Tim, remind me never to get involved in politics, there's just too many stories going around. Merry Christmas to both of you!!!
Keep blogging Tim...and you too Train Geek I knew I had read your blog before.

Tim Scammell, PTech said...

Absolutely Steve. Noone could really be that sinister in real life, could they?

Tim Scammell, PTech said...

Gus, I agree with your way of thinking but would bet that Shep is the type who would take that as a challenge.
The Committee would spend so much money trying to get what's owed to them and by the time it was done Shep's company may not even have the contract anymore.